Posted December 21, 2023 in Play Better Golf by Trevor Cigich
Putting is one of the most important skills to master on the golf course, and having the right tools for the job is a big part of reducing your stroke count on the green. This isn’t as simple as grabbing a putter from some “best putters” list online and hoping it improves your game– putting strokes vary quite a bit between different golfers, and knowing how to choose a putter for your game is essential to getting the most out of your money.
The best way to find the perfect putter is to get fitted at a specialty golf shop. If that isn’t an option for you, or you simply want to know the logic behind how a fitter will be pairing you with your putter, there are six things you’ll need to consider:
|Toe Hang vs Face-Balanced
|The difference in weight distribution across the putter head to help square the putter face at impact
|The point at which the shaft connects with the putter head
|The z-axis angle that the head lies relative to the shaft determines how tilted the shaft will be when the head rests on the ground
|The shape of the putter head
|Length and Weight
|The length and weight of the entire putter
Let’s dive into each, and how to figure out the right configuration for you.
Toe hang is the weight distribution of the club head, with more toe hang placing more of the weight at the “toe,” or end of the club. More toe hang means the toe will be positioned farther back, opening the face through the backstroke, and closing it when coming through.
Toe hang provides a benefit that scales with the amount of arc in your putting stroke. This means the more arc you have in your stroke, the more toe hang you need. This is because arc strokes tend to close the face at the point of impact, which can cause you to miss to the left. Toe hang opens the face and helps correct this if your putting stroke is consistent.
If your stroke is straight, the more open club face can lead to missing right. Thus, when square-to-square stroke golfers pick a club off the rack with pronounced toe hang, they tend not to get their money’s worth. A putter designed to have less toe hang, and benefit from straighter strokes, is called a “face-balanced” putter.
Shaft position refers to where the shaft connects to the putter. Some putters utilize a heel shaft, or a shaft that meets the head at or near the edge, with the rest of the head extending out from the hosel. Center shaft putters are another option, and they have a shaft that sits over the middle of the head.
Generally, heel shaft putters can be used for all stroke shapes, and both blade and mallet putters utilize them often. Center shafts benefit square-to-square putters more, as most are face-balanced.
Different hosel shapes provide more options than just heel-shafted and center-shafted putters. The hosel, or the part of the shaft that connects it to the head, can come in different bend configurations. Single bends are heel-shafted putters, but the bend sets the shaft position when directly down the shaft, between the center of the head and heel. These putters provide a mix of a center shaft’s stability and a heel shaft’s rotation control. This allows putters with only a slight arc in their stroke to find a quality middle ground.
Lie angle is the z-axis angle that the head lies relative to the shaft that determines how tilted the shaft will be when the head rests on the ground. When the toe is lifted off the ground, it elevates the center of the club face, making it harder to strike the ball at the center. As a result, the angle at which you like to hold your shaft will determine the proper lie angle for your putter, ensuring that the head lies parallel to the ground.
There are two broad head shape categories for putters:
Blade putters are smaller than mallets and provide more feedback at impact. This provides a better feel for the angle and location of impact with the ball. The drawback is that they aren’t as forgiving to off-center or off-angle strikes because the weight is positioned closer to the clubface. For golfers who prioritize feedback over forgiveness, blade putters are a great fit.
Mallet putters leverage a physics principle called MOI, or moment-of-inertia, which dictates that a putter will provide straighter shots across the whole putting surface when weight is positioned farther back. Most mallet putters are designed to maximize MOI, which makes it easier to hit straight, but can dampen the level of feedback at impact.
Some putters fall between a blade and a mallet, called mid-mallet putters. Occasionally, golfers may choose this route to get a combination of both shapes’ benefits. Other golfers think they don’t adequately provide the benefits of either. The only way to make this determination is to try one out on the course or at a putter fitting.
The goal for putter length is to choose one that allows you to stand with your eye line right over the ball or slightly inside without hunching over too much at the address. Generally, this can be found by taking a “wrist-to-floor” measurement. This measures the distance between your wrist and the floor when you’re wearing your preferred golf shoes, and your putter length should come close to matching this measurement.
Weight is more of a preference, but increasing head weight can provide more stability for slower putting strokes. This stability and the higher momentum that comes with more weight can also increase accuracy for golfers who struggle with close-range putts.
Adding or subtracting weight will affect what is called “swing weight.” Swing weight isn’t the actual club weight– it refers to the club’s balance point. All clubs have a swing weight, and though it isn’t given as much attention with putters, increasing swing weight will make the shaft feel more rigid and provide more feel. Lower swing weight provides a softer feel but less feedback. This comes down to preference generally, but many golfers like higher swing weights for scoring clubs like wedges and putters for the increased feedback.
Even with all this knowledge, there is no better way to find the right putter than with a professional fitting. Having an expert measure your stroke and allow you to try out several different putters and configurations is the only way to get exactly what you need.
To see what a high-quality putter fitting looks like, check out the one we did with PING’s Putting Lab:
To ensure that you get your money’s worth out of your purchase, seek out a specialty golf shop that can provide you with the professional fitting service that you need. Luckily, Worldwide Golf Shops has many in-store locations that can provide this service and online assistance in picking one yourself if a fitting is out of the question.
Worldwide Golf Shops provides next-level service to customers of all experience levels, with the best-trained staff in the industry. We pride ourselves on our ability to provide guidance to beginners and to share pro tips with even our most experienced clientele, making us one of the best places to learn how to choose a putter.
Check out our online store to see our industry-standard variety of wedges and all of the following:
At Worldwide Golf Shops, we take pride in offering brands that we guarantee will provide the highest level of value to our diverse range of golfers. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist you in finding the perfect golf gear. Find a store near you today!
Trevor Cigich | Director of Retail Marketing | Worldwide Golf Shops
I’ve been at Worldwide Golf Shops for 6 years, and I’ve been playing golf for 23 years. I have played a few mini tour events but now compete occasionally at the amateur level– currently a +2.1 handicap. I am a bit of a tinkerer when it comes to golf and golf clubs. I enjoy testing all aspects of different products, utilizing various fitting systems and learning about all the different club shafts, club lengths, golf balls, and putter styles. Not just for my game, but to help customers of all calibers.
For more content from me and our team, as well as our vast online store, go to www.worldwidegolfshops.com.